Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This is not good. This is just not good.

Well, I was sitting here at my computer because there's good light, and I was waiting for the phone to ring, and the kitchen one has static 90% of the time and I'm too distracted by yarn to call the phone company and tell them to fix it since I have another phone 12 feet away in my office.

My office chair has wheels. I had my yarn in a Farberware metal bowl on the floor, which keeps it from rolling around. A strand got pulled too long, and laid on the floor. And my chair kept rolling over it. I don't know how long that went on, but I think for some time.

That sucker was really wound up in there! I didn't know that my chair had such complicated roller feet. I thought for sure this was going to be another time I'd have to cut the yarn. But I kept rolling the wheel because a whole loop got sucked up in there (two strands on one side of the wheel, and a big loop as the "end" on the other side). Well, I got the loop sliding around the wheel part (which, of course, is embedded in the housing so you can't reach the other side). And then it snagged. The photo is what I ended up with. I could only pull on one end and hope it would unsnag from whatever mysterious crevices are up in there.

And it did. The yarn got dirty. (As you can see, my chair pad has a HUGE residue of dried mud and God knows what else from coming in from the barn after mucking Cloud's stall, then traipsing through snow and ice (which is water when it gets inside). So the yarn got dirty. But it's okay. I brushed it off. Gonna wash it anyway once I'm done knitting it.

So here's the second thing that's not good. The hat was supposed to have a circular shape on the top. Well, it doesn't. It has a square. (I prefer to think of it as a diamond so rotated the photo so it looks like a diamond, just ignore the blank canvas parts where it's just blank canvas).

Okay, I think what made it square was that I forgot I was knitting in the round. So on the non-increase rows, I purled. Doh! I was after stockinette but decided that was a lucky mistake, I liked the garter stitch top.

Here's the top.

Okay, that's not all. After a while of purling, I decided there wasn't any reason why I couldn't pretend it was a design feature, and switched to knit, knit, knit (stockinette if doing it in the round). I had no idea how big the hat would be, I was guessing. But I did stop doing increases. Omigod.

It's a good thing. The hat measures 28" around. And that's with zero stretch on it, stuck on the cable (which is only 24" needle tip to needle tip. It would fit a head bigger than any human's, even big men with gigantic heads. Nobody has a head that big. Except maybe Bush, but that's only figuratively. He could just as easily be described as a pinhead, which is smaller than most people's heads, and you know what that means. In any event, this hat is huge.

Here it is from the side, perched on a roll of toilet paper as a prop.

It's not as long as it looks, it's just huge so it looks longer than it is.

So I decided now was the time to switch stitches again, and do 1x1 ribbing. I called the yarn shop and asked what's the tightest ribbing, thinking maybe I could make a whole new style. They said 1x1. After a couple rows, it still wasn't going to fit, so I called back to see if I could switch to way smaller needles and end up with a tam. But they were closed by then.

I hate to say it, but I see possibilities for this hat. If I were to FELT IT!! It's that big.

I can't imagine felting anything made from homespun. I mean, you want to felt something, you just go buy cheap yarn. But after all that spinning and plying and especially when you thought it was uneven as hell and it turned out to be pretty consistent? You just don't go around felting your 2nd plyed spin.

I think I made some big mistake on a stitch also. Can't figure it out. I don't know if it's a dropped stitch or it got otherwise messed up, but the hat, as is, is toast city anyway. Before I rip it out I'm going to take it to Jenny's on Thursday and just see if she has any ideas. Maybe we can bind off so I don't have to contend with those needles, and really measure it and see just how much too big it is, then maybe rip PART of it out, but not all.

I'm going to call it a learning experience.

As for starting at the center and being able to pull that loop tight so there's no hole, all I can say is next time I'm going to tie something to that loop. It gets pulled into the stitches. I almost couldn't find it. It was a struggle and I'm actually not sure I found it. I found something, and pulled like hell, and the hole closed. So I think I lucked out and it was the loop.

Damn, all of this is going to take a shitload of time to learn.

I'm so Freakin' Far Over My Head it's Ridiculous

Okay, I wanted a scarf and hat, matching set out of this 2nd spin. I don't know why. I hate "sets." And I hate "matching." Let's just say now that I'm an old lady, I get to wear purple AND I get to have matching. Sets. Matching Sets. (This kills me, it's just one of those things.)

So I only have 184 yards out of my 8 oz. Northern Lights Field Berries roving. That's it! I spun it pretty thick, although way more even than I thought. I wanted a scarf though that wouldn't take much yarn. I happened across one on Ravelry that she called a "drop stitch" scarf. I followed her link, and there was this really neat video from the DIY network's "Nitty Gritty" where this gorgeous Asian lady shows you how to do both a Drop Stitch and a Twisted Drop Stitch. I liked the twisted. (This is absolutely consistent with me.)

Okay, I started it with the 9 stitches. Decided I didn't want her fringe, so called upon the pattern of the only other scarf I've ever knit... "my first spin." I used ONE row of full decreases, I just wanted a flare, not a ruffle. (This ain't a ruffly yarn.) I did about 5 rows in garter and actually, got pretty far along. Decided it was too narrow. The scarf seemed to want to be wider because it really knits up FAT! Frogged the whole thing. Started over with 10 stitches. Again I got pretty far along, but something wasn't the same. I didn't like it at all. Oh, I know what it was, I thought I'd get cute and add in occasional rows of garter stitching. I did that on both starts. Well, there was a reason. I have so many splits in the yarn, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to weave that many in with this loosey-lacy drop stitch pattern. Well, I decided I didn't like that either. Frogged the whole thing a 2nd time. (All this is after knitting a significant swatch).

TIME OUT, TIME OUT! There was another drama that happened, very worthy of note. I wish I'd taken a picture. But I wound a big fat ball on my horse's hoof dressing brush's handle (looks like a nostepinne). And very optimistically started using it as a center pull ball. Well, it barfed out a disgusting tangle of yarn out of its center that was hopeless. Okay? Just this abortion of yarn tangle. So I had to cut the yarn. No choice.

Back to the scarf. I now have the ball lying on the disgusting mass of yarn ball barf in a Farberware metal mixing bowl. (Couldn't separate them, I didn't want yet ANOTHER freaking split.)

Okay, now back to the 9 stitches. Now one stitch doesn't sound like much, but it is 1/2 inch with the scarf relaxed, and a lot more with it pulled tighter (makes no sense but trust me, two different scarves. One stitch. Besides, it was dawning on me that this pattern is SUPPOSED to conserve on yarn. Oh yeah? I figured it out. Almost a yard per row!!! With only 9 stitches per row!

Okay, so here's the 9-stitch scarf so far.

And a lengthwise view.

And the freaking thing twists clockwise if I hang it, so I hung it to show how much it twists. Here's the twisted scarf. (Please cock your head to the left until I get the picture turned, I must have not saved it after I rotated it.)

... The scarf with the twisted drop stitches. (Duh, I wonder if that's why the whole scarf is twisting, all its stitches twist. Not sure if there could be any relationship, but I'm suspecting so. Anyway, it'll be lying against my chest or back, so I'm just playing "GET OVER IT."

Well, shit! It dawned on me... as much yarn as this scarf is eating up, I better figure out what I'm going to do for a hat before I knit much more scarf. I mean, this may need to be a short scarf. Maybe the first person to ever create a scarf had the same problem, and she said to her equally ancient husband-master, "Shit, this thing is scarfing up all my yarn!" And so she named it "Scarf."

Okay, so it's now back to Rav for patterns. This may sound bizarre, but I didn't find a hat I liked. I mean there are hundreds of pages of hats under Patterns--Search-->Hat. Basically I don't like hats because they screw up my hair. Jenny can go around with her hair flattened by a hat, and she looks fine. I look like a wet seal.

So I didn't want a tight hat, in fact I wasn't sure what kind of hat I would even find half-assed acceptable, but whatever I was going to knit with this precious HOMESPUN YARN!!! I wanted at least SOME chance that I'd wear it.

So this may sound even weirder because as a knitter I don't know what the hell I'm doing. I really don't. But I ran across a hat that had the description along the lines, "Lifestyle - Knit From the Top Down... you can knit any hat, any size, any shape, and try it on as you go and make changes as you go." There was a link. So I went there, and it looked really confusing, I mean there were two pretty complicated looking things I'd have to learn from this website (which actually is NOT written for a beginning knitter, it makes some very broad assumptions of knowledge... like "WHERE" to increase. And "DO YOU KNIT A FIRST ROW AFTER THIS WEIRD CAST ON BEFORE YOU START INCREASING?" And a lot of things like that.

Anyway, I decided to give it a shot.

First weirdness: You cast on with a crochet hook, in this really strange way, then transfer your stitches to your knitting needle. But what that claims to let you do is pull on a loop which, in turn, closes the hole you're creating at the top of your hat, BECAUSE...

You are kitting from the top down, on TWO circular needles. It's really weird, you switch from knitting on one circular needle to knitting on the 2nd circular needle. Jenny showed me magic loop on socks, which was weird enough, but this is way weirder.

So anyway, I've frogged this thing no less than SIX times, all for different reasons. I didn't know where to put the increases (the pattern just says "mark your increases" and it just says "increase 8 sts every other row," but it doesn't say where.

Oh! I forgot. There IS no "pattern." It's just a method. Supposed to be for people to design their own hats. She gives generalities for a beanie, a pillbox and a beret, but no row by row detail. "They'll figure it out, it's so obvious."

So here's what I have so far. The center circle. I DID have two sets of circular needles, in fact I have them in two sizes. 10-1/2 and 11. Well, this is fat yarn, so I'm using the 11. And let me tell you, the 2nd set is NOT bamboo. It's some sort of a Turbo Needle that sounds sexy, but it's like they made it out of mercury from a thermometer. I can't possibly find the words to describe how slippery those needles are. And with this method, you have to keep stitches on one circular needle while you're INCREASING a bunch on the other circular needle, and watch so they don't fall off the one you're not knitting with, because they will. With the Turbo needles, you really learn how to contort your fingers in ways that would get you committed into medical research texts.

Here it is. I'm actually pretty pleased with it.

Ya think I have ANY CLUE what I'm going to do with this? NADA!!! I have literally zero idea. I did draw a hat I'd really like to have. I don't think it would crush my hair that much and it would really work great as a rain hat because it has a brim. It's in my head. It's a combination between the 1930s and Huckleberry Fin's lover if he had been old enough, with just a touch of Israeli thrown in. But I don't know if you have to felt brims. So I don't think I can make that hat with this yarn.

So I guess I'm going to just figure it out as I go. I think once I get enough circle going, I'm going to start doing a ribbed hat, and hope I pick the right place to start that so the thing fits loosely enough not to crush my hair, but tightly enough to stay on.

In any event, at least IF this top of the hat works out, at least it won't have a pointed top so I look like some sort of pixie or elf wannabee.

So anyway, the hat is being knit a whole lot tighter stitched than I wanted, but I guess that's the breaks. I only have two sets of the same size circular needles, and the size 11 is the biggest. So we'll see what comes of it.